Monday, February 16, 2015

Thank you, Convie

Our 2001 Honda Civic is named Convie.  One Thanksgiving, my generous aunt and uncle surprised me by giving her to us. I took a bus to visit them in Cincinnati and ended up driving her home. Convie’s previous two people were my cousins – one of them called her Connie and one called her Victoria Bouvamonte. We combined the two names, so now she’s Convie.

Convie was awesome during our trip. So reliable, so homey! The only issue we encountered was the driver’s side window refusing to go up, but that was easily resolved. We spent a lot of time driving, but we broke it up (the longest driving day was about nine hours). Convie contained our little world. She not only carried us and our stuff, she protected us and acted as our home-base. 

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We tried to keep things organized…

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I love facing the open road. 
There’s something so liberating about it. 





Roary is our lion. Niall found him at his old job at a bank. Roary oversaw us from the dash during the whole trip. He is still affixed there.


We also have Felix the Cat hanging from the rearview mirror. He’s our good luck charm, found while packing, from Niall’s first car.

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For at least the first few weeks, we had a spider hitchhiking along with us. By nightfall, the web would be wiped away, but next thing we knew, there would be a new one built. I think that the snow in Yellowstone was a bit too much for the brave traveler. 

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It’s amazing to think of all the places Convie has been. Through mountains,  busy narrow  city streets, hanging on along Highway 1, in freezing cold and intense heat, getting oil changes in all different cities, filling up with gasoline of all prices all over – high and low and everywhere in-between. When we arrived in Austin, she was covered with dirt and dead bugs and there were crumbs and debris of all sorts inside. We cleaned her up and she kept (and keeps) on truckin’.

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falling rock car



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Being a passenger often lulls me to sleep. Luckily, there's music for Niall, as I'm not the best company.

car and trains

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Here she is (below), finally parked at our current home after 12,956.2 miles on the road.

car and home

We will forever be grateful to Convie, for all the adventure she’s made possible. In fact, she continues on - she even took us to St. Augustine a couple of days ago for Valentine's Day. 

Monday, February 2, 2015


I love New Orleans.
We hadn't been there a long time - since before Hurricane Katrina. It's the halfway point between Austin and Gainesville, so I have visited many times in years past. It was nice to be back.
We had a quick, fun-filled visit and pretty much just stayed in the French Quarter. We stayed in a fancy room at the W in the Quarter, courtesy of Niall's cousin!

We went to Preservation Hall - I love that it hasn't changed since I was a little girl, sitting on my dad's shoulders in the back. Such wonderful jazz musicians perform there. There are several shows a night, there's no bathroom, there's no bar, just music.

Cafe Du Monde was a necessary stop. I thought I would break my veganism here - they have delicious beignets - fried doughnuts absolutely covered in powdered sugar - and no milk alternative for their coffee. However, I couldn't bring myself to "cheat." I stuck with the vegan options, which aren't many. I snuck in coconut creamer to put in the excellent chicory coffee and had an awesome fresh squeezed orange juice. It's great to people watch here - everyone leaves with powdered suger all over themselves.  

Jackson Square was sunny and lovely.

Lots of artists were out.

We took a ferry across the Mississippi to Algiers. It was short, but sweet. 

There were so many cats there. There seems to be a good deal of Trap-Neuter-Return work happening in New Orleans - hopefully it's going strong in Algiers, though I didn't see any evidence of it happening.

So many sweet souls to pet on porches.

It was quiet and slow in Algiers. There were many old houses and churches to admire while strolling along, with no place in particular to go. 

I must also mention Seed, a vegan restaurant we checked out. I had a po' boy and beignets! What a great treat. 

We were ready to have a home. We spent some nice moments in beautiful New Orleans and then headed down to Florida, to start our new lives.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Dallas was another place to enjoy old friends and family.
It was rainy, our trip was drawing to a close. Niall's good friend from college and his partner were such gracious hosts and set us up in the comfiest room in their gorgeous house! They had two sugary sweet dogs too.

We stopped in Georgetown on the way, where Niall went to college. It's cute - in that quaint little Texas town way. We had coffee at  Cianfrani , a shop Niall frequented as a student.

In Dallas, we got to hang out with Niall's cousin and family and eat sushi, as well as ride in their Tesla!
We zoomed around in this electric car and it was amazing. It was such a smooth, spacious, quiet, and fast ride. I got to sit with Niall's cousin's daughter (who Google just told me is his first cousin, once removed) in the kids' section in the back. Pretty cool to look out at the world from that angle. There are some great advantages to being small. 

Next time we're in Dallas, I'm sure we'll do more site-seeing, but it was so nice to chill out awhile and share some laughs with loved ones.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Austin - Our Second Home

 We have tons of family in Austin and have spent a whole lot of time there.
It was so comforting to arrive and settle in for a whole week.

One of my favorite places is my dad's house. He has lived in many dwellings over the years, but wherever he is, it always feels like home when I go there. 

Some things I love about my dad's home:

There are lots of good books. I generally pick one up and read the whole thing while I'm there. This time it was Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist. It was beautiful - full of longing.

There are the familiar framed photographs, the meditation pillow in the corner, the sparkling water (and not much else) in the fridge, and scrawled notes lying around.

There's a peaceful stillness and coziness to the space that I know well and appreciate. 
After Niall and my's long journey, spending a little time there was such a respite.  

We had the chance to visit my dad and his lovely girlfriend, Beth's community garden plot. Beth made a gorgeous bouquet of herbs for us - including fragrant rosemary, which I used in a potato salad for the party Niall's family had while we were there. 

This garden is so lush and there are bees there! It was so fun to check it out and see the enormous plot  (or plots, rather) they have.

We had lots of quality time with family, including the youngest members:

We also went to see Birdman at super cool Violet Crown Cinema.  Violet Crown has reserved, comfy seats and a cafe. Wow, was that movie good. It is a true masterpiece.

We have a whole lot of fond memories of that week, but not a whole lot of photos.

Before long, it was time to leave. We had a wonderful visit in this fun city with family and friends. Writing this makes me want to go back!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sweet San Antonio

We always have fun in San Antonio. In some ways we like it better than Austin - it's not as hip or busy, yet has so much culture, nature, and history.

We enjoyed a visit to the lovely grounds of the McNay Art Museum. There are lots of sculptures to admire there, among the well-maintained gardens. 

I came across a gorgeous deceased Monarch butterfly.

We met up with some of Niall's family to eat - Niall's mom sweetly had me in mind and suggested a vegetarian restaurant, Green. I absolutely recommend if you ever find yourself in San Antone.
We sat outside and had a feast, which included the best kale salad I have ever had.  

Then Niall and I wandered around, as the restaurant rests within a newly developed area we hadn't visited before. This neighborhood is known as  Pearl, because its where the Pearl Brewery used to be located.
There were lots of great little stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars - all along the San Antonio River. It was cool to walk along the river in a different part of downtown. The more famous, historic and touristy center of activity, the San Antonio River Walk, is a place I've visited many times. It's wonderful - there are always lots of people there, enjoying the tons of Tex-Mex restaurants and boat rides. I especially love it during the holiday season, when the trees are strung up with lights. However, strolling along Pearl's river banks felt much mellower and natural. It's an artsy, pretty place, so it was right up our alley.  

We found Rosella Coffee Company (below), a friendly place for Niall to get a beer and for me to get a coffee. I grew obsessed with the brownies at Green, so we went back and picked one up for me - incredible.

We paid a brief visit to the Sunken Gardens in Brackenridge Park. This park brings me back to my early childhood - it's big with lots to do. 

We stayed with Niall's friends from high school - a really kind couple with two kids, a sweet elderly kitty, and a spectacular home.

San Antonio treated us well - we spent time with people we love, enjoyed the comforts of a home, ate delicious food, and saw some awesome sights.